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Centre for Agricultural Renewable Energy and Sustainability


CARES conducts research, development, and demonstration of agriculturally based renewable energy as well as measures to lessen the impact of renewable energy production. It is also involved in outreach, training, and delivery of course at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus.

Our current focus is the use of biological resources from the farm setting as inputs for the creation of electricity, heat, and transportation fuels.


To conduct applied and adaptive research; training and education; technology transfer; and rural community development.


To translate renewable energy science into sustainable action at the farm gate for the advancement of the rural economy.

CARES Facilities

  • Our main renewable energy infrastructure consists of a 600 000 L per year biodiesel plant and a 250-kW anaerobic digester for biogas production. These pieces are integrated in order to complete closed-loop energy production
  • For example, excess heat from biogas operations is used to process waste vegetable oil and unrecoverable waste from biodiesel production is used as a feedstock for the anaerobic digester
  • We also use conventional and modified farm machinery to plant and harvest bioenergy crops such as Miscanthus, switchgrass and Camelina

CARES Services

  • CARES can complete fee-for-service conversion of oil feedstocks to biodiesel, provide building and design advice, as well as other services
  • CARES can also partner with your company to complete specific research projects

Community Partners

We are grateful to have the support of our many industrial, academic, community, and government and funding partners, including:

  • AAFC
  • AAC
  • GFO
  • Biogas Association
  • Renewable Fuels Canada
  • M&H Recyclers
  • UPI

Did You Know?

  • Biomass crops can be turned into biofuels, biogas or used as a combustible source of energy
  • Biodiesel is a liquid transportation fuel made from plant oil or animal fat that can be used in vehicles with diesel engines.
  • Biogas is a gaseous product from the microbial conversion of degradable material. Biogas contains methane which can be burned for electricity generation or heat.
  • The CARES Facility has the capacity to produce 2 190 000 kWh of renewable electricity annually? That is enough electricity to power roughly 200 households or the entire University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus.
  • Total annual Canadian biofuel capacity is over 2.4 billion L
  • Canadian biogas operations add over 14 MW of electricity to the grid annually
  • The economic impact of biofuels in Canada is over $2 billion annually
  • A significant portion of the fuels in your car’s tank can come from renewable agricultural resources
  • Production and combustion of biofuels has a reduced environmental impact compared to fossil fuels
  • Biodiesel is made from a chemical transformation of plant oils whereas ethanol is made from a biological transformation of plant sugars
  • That farmers routinely turn livestock manure and crop residues into renewable heat, electricity as well as a source of renewable fertilizer
  • Biomass crops like Miscanthus, Switchgrass and Big Bluestem can be sustainably harvested and combusted for electricity and heat applications
  • Canada ranks 9th out of 28 OECD countries in terms of renewable energy production
  • The CARES Facility can divert 3,200 tonnes of waste from landfills annually

The Sandbox

  • The CARES sandbox is a place to test and integrate new or existing technologies for the emerging bioeconomy with the goal of creating new opportunities for revenue on the farm
  • No idea is too big or too small to try. The only requirement is that each idea must have a business plan and must operate at full cost recovery
  • Our team has experience in developing projects and accessing industry and government funding to help get your ideas off the ground

CARES Research

  • Renewable energy can take many forms.
  • The focus is on agriculturally based renewable energy such as biofuel production, anaerobic digestion, and biomass utilization
  • We also complete research to ensure that this renewable energy can be produced in the most environmentally responsible and sustainable manner
  • Our research, development and outreach activities are currently focused on:
  1. Biogas

    • Biogas is produced by the concerted effort of different kinds of microbes
    • These microbes break down material in the absence of oxygen and produce biogas, a mixture of gases composed mainly of methane and carbon dioxide
    • Biogas is used to displace the fossil version of natural gas and to generate electricity and heat. In addition, a liquid digestate that is rich in nutrients and used as a fertilizer is also produced
    • The entire process of capturing and using the biogas and digestate created by the microbial degradation of material is referred to as anaerobic digestion
    • CARES is currently working on integrated production of biogas and digestate, alternative digestion feedstocks and nutrient cycling throughout the digestion process
  2. Biodiesel

    • Made by applying heat, alcohol, and base in the conversion of vegetable oil or animal fat into a liquid fuel that can be used in cars and trucks with diesel engines
    • We are currently investigating Camelina as an alternative biodiesel feedstock, integrated biodiesel production and utilization of lower value biodiesel co-products like glycerol and wastewater
  3. Biomass Crops

    • Biomass crops, also known as bioenergy crops, are plants that are specifically grown for renewable energy or biomaterials applications
    • The organic matter from the crop is used directly as a combustible energy source or converted into another usable form to create heat, electricity, chemical precursors, or liquid fuel
    • CARES researchers are investigating the economic and environmental feasibility of Miscanthus, switchgrass, big bluestem, Camelina and other plants as useful crops for the development of Ontario’s bioeconomy

Questions about CARES? Contact Us